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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Microsoft Corp is looking towards an unexpected source to further .NET uptake - database adversary Oracle Corp,

writes Gavin Clarke.

The Redmond, Washington-based company yesterday launched enhanced support for Oracle database products, with the .NET Framework Data Provider for Oracle. Data Provider for Oracle is available for download from Microsoft's web site.

The Data Provider for Oracle provides extensions to Oracle's database. So far, the .NET Framework, which underpins .NET, has been optimized for just Microsoft's SQL Server.

The extensions are designed to increase performance of .NET applications that extract data from inside a customer's Oracle database, and also speed application development.

The Data Provider for Oracle provides a SQL-server programming model, called SQL Server Managed Provider. This allows developers to write applications for multiple databases without needing to learn new programming skills.

Microsoft group product manager John Montgomery said the Data Provider for Oracle helps customers to access "legacy data". "Customers wanted a way to access legacy data with the developer and productivity benefits of .NET," Montgomery said.

He said Microsoft offered the Data Provider following feedback from customers. A similar Data Provider for IBM's DB2 would be developed in response to customer demand, he said.

Until now, the .NET Framework used Microsoft's ADO.NET general databases access architecture to extract data from competitors' databases, such as DB2 and Oracle's 9i.

However, this generic approach slowed application performance. Microsoft claimed by optimizing for Oracle, performance of .NET applications increased by up to 200%. The Data Provider for Oracle can more fully access features like 9i's caching and row-level locking.

Redwood Shores, California-based Oracle supported improved connection to .NET, but said the Data Provider actually limits access to its database. Customers can only tap data not features like Oracle's Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) API or data engine.

Oracle plans its own .NET offering to get around this - Oracle Data Provider (ODP) .NET, now in beta and scheduled for a November launch. George Demarest, Oracle's senior director of database marketing, said ODP.NET would give .NET developers full access to features in Oracle databases. Microsoft and Oracle have a history of releasing drivers to access data held in the other's database.

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